sport

Wickham earns Brown praise

Sunderland defender Wes Brown has praised the impact of Connor Wickham after the striker gave the club renewed hope of avoiding relegation.

Wickham has scored three goals in his last two appearances for Sunderland after previously netting just once in the Premier League since his 2011 move from Ipswich Town.

The 21-year-old has been out on loan at Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United this season, but has returned to Sunderland to play a key role in their survival fight.

He scored both goals in last week's 2-2 draw at Manchester City and then pounced for the equaliser in Sunderland's shock 2-1 win at Chelsea at the weekend.

Those results have moved Sunderland three points from safety, with a game in hand, and Brown believes Wickham has the potential to reach a high level.

"He's been brilliant for us," Brown told the Sunderland Echo. "I think the two goals at Manchester City have obviously helped him and he went to Chelsea very confident.

"He's only a young lad, but he's a big, strong lad. If he gets the best out of his ability, he's going to be some player.

"He's on a high at the moment and hopefully we can keep providing him with the goals.

"The gaffer has decided to put him in and he has repaid him. He wants to play football and you can see the ability he's got.

"But sometimes young players just need a bit of guidance and time. You can see what he's shown over the last few games."